Now that we are nearing the end of Spring (that never really felt like Spring, dangit) - it's time to preserve some of that delicate seasonal fruit. I'm talking strawberries and rhubarb, people. I tried out three different jam recipes in the same day, because I am a crazy person (and because I bought way too many local strawberries at the farmers market).
First up is my mother-in-law's fresh strawberry syrup recipe (pictured in front and in the bowl on the right) - if only I had access to Oregon berries like her! Jasper loves this recipe, so I make a TON and freeze it to use all year (if it lasts that long). He loves to put it on sourdough pancakes and vanilla ice cream, I like it swirled into plain Greek yogurt. This is a raw fruit jam recipe (with more berries and less sugar to make it more of a syrup than a jam), so the taste of the fresh berries really comes through.
Next is a Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam with Cardamom (pictured in the middle and in the jar on the left) that was supposed to use apple juice, but I had cranberry on hand so I subbed that and it added a lot of cranberry flavor. It tastes very fall like to me because of the cranberry and spices. This is the only jam that I canned, so I will probably save it for the fall. If you want more of the rhubarb flavor to come through, use the apple juice instead.
And last is a Rhubarb, Raspberry, and Strawberry Jam thickened with Chia Seeds (pictured in the back and in the jar on the right). This is touted as a healthy recipe because the fruit is raw and it uses raw honey as sweetener. Because you use chia seeds to thicken it, instead of pectin, you can use much less sugar than you could for a traditional jam. This one came out pretty tart for me, but Jasper really likes it. The concept works really well, so I will probably be trying out different fruits. This recipe actually said to just puree the raw rhubarb, but I was pretty skeptical about that, so I simmered it in a little bit of cranberry juice first (since I was already doing that for the other jam).
Let's get jammin! I really crack myself up...
Mama Clark's Fresh Strawberry Syrup
yields 6 cups
5 cups halved or quartered strawberries
3-5 cups sugar
2 oz powdered pectin
1 cup cold water
Wash fruit, hull, and drain well; then crush (you can leave big chunks or not, up to you). Place into large mixing bowl, add 3 cups of the sugar and mix well. Let stand for 20 minutes stir often to promote sugar dissolving. Taste after some of the sugar has dissolved and add more sugar, if you like.
In a small saucepan, whisk the pectin into the water and bring to a boil for one minute. Then add to the berry mixture and stir for 2 minutes.
Pour into jars or freezer containers which have been scalded. Leave at least 1/4 inch at top, cover, and let stand at room temperature 24 hours to set. Store in freezer. Will last 2 - 3 weeks in the fridge.
Rhubarb Raspberry and Cardamom Jam
adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
Makes 4 cups
1 lb rhubarb, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup all natural apple juice (I used cranberry and it had a definite impact on flavor)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Place rhubarb, raspberries, and apple juice into a medium pot and stir together. Place over medium heat and cook down for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring.
Add remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer for 45 to 55 minutes or until jam is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (jam will thicken more as it cools). If jam is thick enough when cooled, remove from heat; if not, stir in 2 tablespoons apple juice and boil for about 5 more minutes. My favorite method to test for thickness is to put a small plate and metal spoon in the freezer for 5 minutes. Use the spoon to remove a small amount of jam and swirl onto the cold plate. It will cool very quickly, allowing you to test the thickness easily.
Allow jam to cool completely before serving.
For canning: Sterilize jars in a pot of simmering water and lids/rings in a separate pot of simmering water. Fill each jar until 1/2 inch remains at top and tightly seal with lids. Place filled and sealed jars in a simmering water bath that covers the jars by 1 inch and gently boil for 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove jars to a towel on the countertop. Do not touch or move the jars for 24 hours in order to make certain that they are set. You will hear popping sounds as the lids suction closed. After 24 hours, check the jars and keep any that did not seal in the fridge (as opposed to room temp). Jam should last about 2-3 months unopened, 2-3 weeks opened and in the fridge.
Strawberry Rhubarb Raspberry Chia Jam
adapted from Thankful Expressions
yields 3 cups
1 cup strawberries
1 cup rhubarb (I simmered the rhubarb in 1/4 cup cranberry juice until soft to sweeten it. This is optional.)
1 cup raspberries
3 tbsp raw honey (or to taste)
3 tbsp chia seeds
Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor and refrigerate overnight. The chia seeds will gel, thickening the fruit puree.